Lights, camera, Vegas! Welcome to another episode of…American Idol. Not only was this episode the best of the entire season thus far, but it finally proved why Randy has been so high on Season Eleven for the past two weeks. Let’s face it, Hollywood Week was a miserable mess, and a trip to the desert was just the cure to alleviate the torture Hollywood Week put us through as viewers. I’m not saying American Idol has reached the upper echelons of its former quality, but I also think that it certainly redeemed itself with an episode that showcased many potential stars in the making, as well as providing us with some great feedback and criticism from our panel of judges. When Jennifer Lopez is on her judging game, only Simon Cowell tops her in this field. Lopez’s critiques are precise, helpful, and always spot on. She knows how far to push a contestant with a critique without making them collapse into tears, and even the let downs and cuts aren’t quite as painful to watch. That being said, there were three individuals tonight who I felt were robbed a shot at a spot in the Top 42. That’s right folks, the numbers have now been dwindled to 42 remaining contestants. After the jump, find out who made the top 42, who I select as my final “Top 5 to Watch” (yep, this is the last time these honors will be awarded this season), and most importantly: I predict who will make American Idol Season 11′s Top 24.
Vegas week certainly was a lot of fun, and Idol contestants haven’t tackled the 50s this well since Season Five. Each contestant put their own spin on a legend, be it Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley. No two singers sounded alike, and there were extremely brutal cuts as some great singers were edged out in favor of contestants the judges thought would have a better shot in the live rounds. With that said, why the hell did Schylar Dixon and Brittnee Kellogg go home? Jessica Phillips was also pretty amazing, but her attitude kind of defeated my former love for her. I understand the frustration in getting so close to your dream just to have it snatched away with one single decision, but don’t burn bridges with the one program that showed the world what you were capable of. Schylar Dixon and Brittnee Kellogg didn’t sing any worse than Lauren Gray or Shelby Tweten. In fact, there was never a single time where Schylar went off pitch or kept me bored. I always paid attention, and actually thought her voice could have sold a lot of records. Brittnee Kellogg I have enjoyed ever since the audition, and she was a fighter the whole way, so her dismissal was more of a personal loss than anything else. Overall, this Vegas episode was on par with last season’s Sin City episode, and I almost wish Hollywood Week would just move to Vegas next season. Everyone seems to have more fun, become more inspired, and perform at a higher level than they do in that hellish Hollywood studio.
Okay, before I move on to the announcement of the Top 42, here are some notable contestants who left us this episode:
Noteworthy Contestants Given the Boot:
Brittnee Kellogg — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Schylar Dixon — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Jessica Phillips — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Angie Ziederman — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Johnny Keyser — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Ashley Robles — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
And finally, without further ado, here are your Top 42 American Idol Contestants Remaining:
American Idol Season 11 Top 42:
Adam Lee Decker
Baylie Brown — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Brielle Von Hugel — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Cortez Shaw — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
David Leathers Jr. — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Eben Franckewitz — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Erika Van Pelt
Hallie Day — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Lauren Gray — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Naomi Rae Gillies
River St. James
Phillip Phillips — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Reed Grimm — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Shannon Magrane — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Skylar Laine — Chosen as Top 5 Contestant to Watch
Now comes the final installment of my: “Top 5 to Watch” from the Vegas performances. Here goes!
5. Heejun Han — I never thought Heejun had that spectacular of a voice…until Vegas that is. His solo on “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos showcased solid control and the ability to sing seriously for once. Unlike previous times, I never felt Heejun lucked out from J. Lo’s puppy love for our season’s comedian. Heejun delivered a soulful and stirring performance that proved why he deserves a spot in the Top 24. I just hope he doesn’t go back to being inconsistent and screechy. Check Heejun out:
4. Jeremy Rosado and 3. Ariel Sprague — I haven’t warmed up to Jeremy Rosado all season, but his vocals have the perfect blend of soul and pop pizzazz to make him a great recording artist. I especially love how he commits to each performance without losing pitch or falling out of the moment. His “Rockin’ Robin” performance was his strongest vocal to date, and he sounds like the next Taio Cruz, ready to launch with a frenzy of top 40 hits. Rosado isn’t as overbearing as some wannabe frontrunners this season, which makes me feel a bit guilty for not recognizing his talent until now. Still, Rosado gets better as the competition goes along, and I can only hope greater things are in store. As for Ariel, where do I begin? This little powerhouse came out of nowhere, blasting us with her talent and huge vocal range. I loved the attitude, I loved the killer instinct, and most importantly, she nailed singing a slightly cheesy/boring 50′s tune. Check out their group performance of “Rockin’ Robin” right here:
2. Deandre Brackensick and 1. Jessica Sanchez –Those who watched tonight’s Vegas episode probably won’t argue with me when I say that the two best performers were Deandre Brackensick and Jessica Sanchez, who delivered an original take on “Doesn’t Matter Anymore” that showcased every amazing asset of their perfect voices. Deandre nearly made it into the Top 24 last year, cut just shy of the live rounds at The Green Mile episode. Sanchez is a former singer from America’s Got Talent, where she demonstrated a big voice for a 10 year old girl during the first season. Holy cow, the girl is even stronger now and sounds almost like Jennifer Hudson if you can believe it. With one performance, Sanchez just demonstrated she is the strongest Asian-American female singer to ever hit American Idol. If she doesn’t make it into the Top 24, I will be shocked. Check them both out below:
Now, the moment of truth, here are my predictions for the Top 24 before heading into next week’s back-to-back Green Mile episodes:
Top 12 Boys:
David Leathers Jr.
Top 12 Girls:
Brielle Von Hugel
Erika Van Pelt
Remember, no spoilers either! These 24 I chose as the one’s who were most featured, and the ones I noticed had the best overall run during Hollywood Week and the Vegas Round. It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen. I will be especially crushed for Deandre, Colton, and Hollie if they don’t make it, as all three made it to Green Mile last year. Post your thoughts and opinions below in the comments section, and tell us who your favorites are and who you think will make the Top 24 next week.
Tags: america's got talent, american idol, american idol recap, American Idol Season 11, fox, fox network, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, reality television, Ryan Seacrest, singing competition shows, Steven Tyler